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Yankees vs. Rays Game Preview: Yanks look to take first series of the season

Pineda takes the mound for the Bombers tonight in the rubber game of a three game set

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Who: Yankees @ Rays

What: Baseball

When: 7:10pm

Where: Tropicana Field

Why: Because the schedule says so

The Yankees are officially in the win column for the 2017 season, and will look to pick up a series victory against Alex Cobb and the Rays tonight. The Yanks will counter with Michael Pineda, so your guess is as good as mine as to what should be expected.

Spring training showed a continuation of the frustrating seesaw affair that has been Pineda’s career. With promising stuff and an ability to throw strikes, the frustration that has been Pineda is enough to pull your hair out.

As Pineda prepares for his first start of the season in Tampa tomorrow night, let’s look back at one of his pitching lines last season that sums up his career in pinstripes.

In an August start against these same Rays (although this one was at Yankee Stadium), Pineda was rocked for 10 hits, seven earned runs and four homers in just five innings of work. Yet somehow, he managed to strike out nine batters while walking just one. What is that!?

So the storyline for Pineda is that we have no idea what his storyline is going to be. Here are some other things to look for tonight...

Started from the bottom....

At least the Yankee offense did in last night’s 5-0 win. The team’s 7-8-9 combo at the bottom of the order of Chase Headley, Aaron Judge and Ronald Torreyes hit like they belonged in the heart of the order, further cementing the fact that you can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.

The trio combined to drive in four of the team’s five runs, while scoring three of them. Torreyes and Headley both hit homers, and they were not cheap by any means. These were no-doubters. We’ll see if the production from the bottom of the lineup continues against Cobb tonight.

Speaking of Headley

His dinger to straightaway center field last night came as a welcomed sight for the third baseman who had a historically bad start to the 2016 season. Headley failed to hit a homer until mid-May last season, and now has his first homer in just two games of work.

After beating the shift to perfection on Sunday and flexing his muscle last night, it will be interesting to see if Headley’s solid start continues against Cobb, who appears to have Headley’s number. In 14 career at-bats, Headley has just two hits and seven strikeouts against Cobb. Maybe he changes the tide tonight.

Gary good, don’t worry

Gary Sanchez struck out twice last night and has failed to record a hit in his first two games. Reactionary fans will want to scream Kevin Maas, but look at the tape. Sanchez has hit three balls on a rope in the first two games that have unfortunately been right at fielders. That’s baseball.

Sanchez was 2-5 with a homer and four RBI against Cobb last year. It’s a small sample size, but maybe baseball karma swings back his way tonight and his hard hit balls find some holes. Knowing the game of baseball, his first hit of the season will likely be way of an infield single or Texas Leaguer.

Watch out for these Rays hitters...

Steven Souza Jr is always a home run threat, and Pineda gives up plenty of homers, so that’s enough to warrant a concern. It’s even more concerning that Souza Jr is 9-for-19 with three doubles and four homers in his career against Pineda. That adds up to an OPS of 1.737. Yikes.

Another homer threat would be Brad Miller, who has never taken Pineda yard, but is 7-18 with a pair of doubles and triples.

Of course, we have to put Yankee-killer Evan Longoria in here. Surprisingly, Longoria is just 7-33 with 10 strikeouts in his career against Pineda, but that can change at any time.

Will Pineda carry over the momentum from CC Sabathia’s strong start and get the Yanks their second win of the season, or are we in for an all-too familiar Pineda dud? Comment your predictions!

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